In this instalment of our Taste Maker series, learn more about award-winning Chef, Steven Edwards. He shares how the MasterChef: The Professionals competition shaped his culinary approach and the role Nyetimber’s sparkling wines play in enhancing his dining experiences.
MasterChef The Professionals is known for its intense culinary challenges. How do you draw on your experiences from the competition to continuously push your creative boundaries in the kitchen?
MasterChef was filmed over ten intense weeks and during that period I was working five days a week at South Lodge. On my two days off, I travelled to London to cook in front of cameras with Michel Roux Jr., Monica Galetti and Greg Wallace. Filming the show ended without much fanfare due to the time gap between filming in summer and airing in winter.
Post MasterChef, returning to daily challenges at South Lodge felt minor compared to the show’s demands. This experience served as a catalyst, pushing me out of my comfort zone. I thrive on challenges, as evident in my multiple restaurants today. MasterChef taught me that when you do push yourself out of your comfort zone, you get a real sense of pleasure from what, from what you do and what you achieve. You also learn a lot about yourself along the way.
As a chef who understands the importance of versatility in food and wine pairings, how does Nyetimber’s range of styles enhance the dining experience that you look to create?
I love Nyetimber for its consistently crisp flavour, which complements my preference for lighter dishes. When collaborating with my sommelier, Sam at etch., we occasionally encounter challenges in pairing my creations with bold red wines as my cuisine leans towards a lighter and less heavy style and this is where sparkling wine, especially the 1086 Rosé by Nyetimber works really well. Nyetimber aligns seamlessly with the nuanced flavours and intricacies of my culinary choices, reflecting the type of food I personally enjoy.
At etch. you use two main ingredients to showcase the fantastic produce provided by your suppliers. Can you explain a little more about that and share an example of a dish that showcases this approach?
I credit Michel Roux Jr. for influencing my culinary approach. Initially, I overloaded dishes, like one featuring cured trout with pickled turnips, watercress, and raspberries. Roux wisely advised simplicity, emphasising that the dish didn’t need extras.
As a younger chef, I tended to overcomplicate, thinking more meant better. Now, with maturity, I embrace a less-is-more philosophy. Focusing on two main ingredients involves exploring various techniques and textures. Consider our sea trout offering—a poached delight served with a beurre blanc sauce crafted from the fish’s bones. Accompanied by sea herbs in different forms—herb-infused oil, buttered sea herbs, and raw sea herbs—the goal is to utilise every aspect of these ingredients. This approach defines many dishes at etch, occasionally incorporating a third or fourth element while generally adhering to simplicity.
Creating a dining experience where Nyetimber sparkling wines accompany every course, from canapés to dessert, is truly special. What factors inspire your creativity when you’re putting together a pairing menu with only sparkling wine?
Seasonal inspiration forms the cornerstone of my culinary approach. Having previously collaborated with Nyetimber, I’ve gained insight into what pairs well with the range of wines and I use that as a starting point. For the upcoming dining experience we are hosting, I have crafted a menu that harmonises with Nyetimber wines, while staying true to my unique style and upholding the integrity of my dishes.
If you could cook for anybody, dead or alive who would it be and what would you cook?
I recently watched the David Beckham documentary, and I remembered how much I found inspiration in his focus and passion, not as a chef but as a sports figure from the ’90s. Cooking for celebrities like Tom Holland and Tom Hardy has been exciting, but the idea of cooking for Beckham is a bit nerve-wracking. I admire his newfound passion for food, akin to how I find relaxation in cooking at home.
Unlike some chefs, I don’t see cooking at home as a chore; it’s a happy place, much like how Beckham seemed to find it in his documentary. If I were to cook for Beckham, I’d keep it simple, enjoying the challenge of putting my twist on his favourite dishes. It’s like at Christmas, I prefer asking my family what they want rather than deciding for them. They’ve enjoyed unconventional choices like salt-baked turbot instead of the usual turkey. It’s about bringing the family together around the table, creating a sense of tradition in our own way.